Daily Intel – 7/2/2018

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Arizona Diamondbacks

  • OF Christian Walker, who was recalled Friday, started in left field and hit cleanup yesterday, going 2-for-5 with a run scored. OFs A.J. Pollock and Steven Souza are both advancing in their respective rehab assignments, so Walker shouldn’t be up very long.

Atlanta Braves

  • RP A.J. Minter got and converted the save chance yesterday in a 6-5 win as the Braves completed their sweep in St. Louis. RP Arodys Vizcaino should be back today and is likely to move back in to the full-time closer role.

Baltimore Orioles

  • OF Mark Trumbo hit two solo home runs in four at-bats yesterday, giving him seven home runs in his last 58 plate appearances.
  • SP Kevin Gausman has limited the damage his home run problem has inflicted on his ERA – yesterday, he allowed a homer for the third straight start and sixth time in seven starts, but it was only a solo shot, and he ended up limiting the Angels to two runs total over eight innings. It is a little concerning that in this three-start run where he’s allowed only five runs, he’s managed just nine strikeouts, but Gausman has proven he can handle tough matchups and should be used in most starts unless he’s getting a really bad draw like the Yankees or Red Sox.

Boston Red Sox

  • SP David Price’s fastball velocity, both two- and four-seam, was fine last night, but there wasn’t much movement on either pitch, and the Yankees pounded him (again) for nine hits and eight earned runs over 3 1/3 innings. That included five home runs, one on the four-seamer and two on the two-seamer. Price has thrown 4 1/3 innings against the Yankees this year and has allowed 12 hits and 12 earned runs.

Chicago Cubs

  • SP Jon Lester has the largest gap among qualified starters between his expected ERA when accounting for luck and defense (xFIP/FIP on FanGraphs) and his real-life ERA. The gap closed a little yesterday, as Lester allowed four runs (two earned) over five innings on nine hits and three walks, striking out five. Lester has sustained “lucky” numbers for a full season as recently as 2016, so we’re not advocating selling or benching him in tough starts, but the latter should be a consideration if he starts to show any signs of giving up more fly balls, as Wrigley Field in the summer is not the place to have that issue. He finishes out the first half at home against the Reds (tough matchup with how well they’ve been hitting recently) and at the Padres (best matchup for a starter in fantasy, right now).

Chicago White Sox

  • OF Avisail Garcia had another strong game, going 4-for-5 with two doubles, a triple, a run scored, and three RBI.
  • 1B/3B Matt Davidson went 3-for-5 with a double, three RBI, and a run scored yesterday. That’s two games in a row with three hits for Davidson after breaking out of a 2-for-28 slump.

Cincinnati Reds

  • SP Matt Harvey still doesn’t have the ability to go very deep in to games from an innings perspective, but he was able to get 5 2/3 innings of shutout ball out of just 68 pitches yesterday, striking out six Brewers and allowing only two hits for what was probably his best start of the year from a fantasy perspective. Harvey threw 73 percent of his pitches for strikes in his start against Atlanta earlier this week, and the number yesterday was 69 percent…it isn’t much of a coincidence that he’s now won three consecutive starts and has lowered his ERA from 5.92 to 4.91 in that time. Harvey gets the Cubs in Chicago next, not an easy spot, but he’s definitely worth using in NL-only leagues.
  • SS Jose Peraza was leading off again with OF Scott Schebler moving back down the order to the fifth spot, and Peraza went 2-for-5 with a double, a grand slam, and two runs scored.

Cleveland Indians

  • SP Carlos Carrasco is scheduled to return to the Indians’ rotation on Friday after a successful rehab start at Double-A Akron over the weekend.

Colorado Rockies 

  • RP Adam Ottavino capped off his worst week of the season by allowing two earned runs on four hits yesterday in 1/3 of an inning against the Dodgers. He took his second loss in a week where he allowed five earned runs and 14 baserunners in four innings, seeing his ERA rise from .79 to 1.88.

Detroit Tigers

  • 3B/OF Nick Castellanos is on fire right now, with six multi-hit games in his last eight starts. In his 2-for-5 day yesterday, he hit his fourth home run in his last seven starts, with 12 RBI over that span.
  • SP Jordan Zimmermann was great for the second time in his three starts since coming off the disabled list, limiting the Blue Jays to a run on five hits (no walks) in seven innings, striking out six. Zimmermann has only allowed four earned runs in 19 innings over those three post-injury starts, with 13 strikeouts and one walk.
  • OF Leonys Martin was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a hamstring strain.

Houston Astros

  • C/DH Evan Gattis hit two long home runs to left field yesterday against the Rays, the only runs the Astros scored as they dropped their third straight game. Gattis now has 17 home runs and 56 RBI, setting a pace that will make him viable in mixed leagues next year even if he’s eligible only at Utility.
  • SP Charlie Morton took his second loss of the year because of a bloop single that was totally misplayed by OF Josh Reddick, but he still struck out 11 over 6 2/3 innings, his second consecutive outing with double-digit strikeouts.

Kansas City Royals

  • SP Brad Keller capped off an elite-level two-start week by limiting the Mariners to six hits and one earned run yesterday, building on his seven shutout innings from Monday against the Angels. Keller hasn’t allowed a home run in his six starts, and in his last two outings he’s generated 29 ground balls against just eight fly balls. Keller will be tested next at home Saturday against Boston, but being in his home park helps, and he closes out the first half on July 13 with a start at the White Sox. Keller is a viable option in 15-team mixed leagues.

Los Angeles Angels

  • SP/DH Shohei Ohtani is all but certain to return this week as just DH Shohei Ohtani, but if he was cut in your format as a hitter, you should definitely add him immediately.

Los Angeles Dodgers

  • 1B/3B Max Muncy got his fifth game of the season at second base yesterday, nearing eligibility at that position in most league setups. He hit second and went 2-for-2 with two walks and two runs scored.

Miami Marlins

  • SP Dan Straily has posted two solid starts after his 1 1/3-inning blowup in San Francisco on June 19. He limited the Mets to three runs on five hits and four walks over seven innings yesterday, tying his season-high for strikeouts with seven.

Milwaukee Brewers

  • OF Ryan Braun was back in the lineup yesterday after dealing with lower back tightness earlier in the weekend, going 1-for-2 with a two-run home run.

Minnesota Twins

  • C Willians Astudillo was called up Friday and got seven at-bats over two days against the Cubs, picking up three hits, including a triple and three RBI. Astudillo is a unique player because he’s struck out 76 times total in nine seasons as a minor leaguer, a 3.2 percent strikeout rate that would be by far the best in the majors. This has really been his first season with only sustained power, but at 26 years old there’s some understanding of a limited upside in his Triple-A numbers after getting so many minor league at-bats. If he’s eligible at catcher and you’re in a deep mixed league, we’d keep an eye on his playing time this week to judge his roster worthiness for the next few weeks.
  • 2B Brian Dozier went 2-for-3 with two walks, a two-run home run, and three runs scored yesterday.

New York Mets

  • RP Jeurys Familia worked a perfect ninth inning yesterday, striking out two for his 15th save of the year after his meltdown against the Pirates on Wednesday.
  • OF Michael Conforto went 0-for-3 yesterday with a walk and three strikeouts. Conforto has struck out 10 times in his last six games, but he’s also walked six times over that period.

New York Yankees

  • We told you a couple of weeks ago that OF Aaron Hicks looked ready for a hot streak, and yesterday he hit three home runs and drove in four, and just like that he’s closing in on a 30-homer pace for the season after three good weeks. He has eight homers since June 14, with a not-terrible strikeout-to-walk ratio of 12-to-4 in that time. The one downside of his power surge is that he hasn’t run much, with only one stolen base since May 14.

Oakland A’s

  • 3B Matt Chapman had a successful batting practice before yesterday’s game, so he’s set to come off the disabled list tomorrow in advance of the A’s two-game set with the Padres.

Philadelphia Phillies

  • OF Aaron Altherr went 0-for-3 with a strikeout yesterday in his first starts since Wednesday – he’s a bench player now for the Phillies and should not be owned in any formats.

Pittsburgh Pirates

  • SP Nick Kingham will be up to start today’s game against the Dodgers in place of injured SP Chad Kuhl, making him a two-start pitcher with the other outing coming this weekend against the Phillies.
  • OF Corey Dickerson homered yesterday for the first time in almost two months, a stretch of 163 at-bats.

San Diego Padres

  • SP Tyson Ross’ saw a fastball velocity drop yesterday of about 2 mph from his previous three starts, and his slider was also a little down from his season average. Perhaps not coincidentally, the Pirates lit him up for his worst disastrous start of the season, allowing seven runs on seven hits and three walks over five innings. Ross has only struck out 12 in his last four starts over 24 innings, so it’s probably time to start being more judicious with his usage if you have that luxury.

San Francisco Giants

  • 1B/3B Pablo Sandoval left yesterday’s game after being hit by a pitch on the right elbow. Any sort of absence will lock in everyday at-bats for 2B/OF Alen Hanson, who is playing enough now to be relevant in most leagues, but not all.
  • RP Mark Melancon was given a chance to start the ninth inning in a non-save situation yesterday with the Giants up 9-5, but he allowed three hits and an earned run and had to turn the ball over to RP Will Smith for the final out, giving Smith his second save of the weekend. RP Sam Dyson picked up two outs in the seventh inning.

Seattle Mariners

  • 2B/OF Dee Gordon hit .248 with a .537 OPS, 20 strikeouts, and a 5-for-8 success rate on steals in June. He opened July with a single in four at-bats against the Royals. Gordon has struggled since moving to second base full time, and we’re starting to worry about his on-base performance and defense impacting his stolen base success rate. You’re not benching Gordon in most leagues, but he’s a bad week or two away from being  in the same position as Reds OF Billy Hamilton, which is judging his weekly viability in your lineup based on volume at-bats and pitcher and catcher matchups.

St. Louis Cardinals

  • OF Tommy Pham broke out of his long slump at the plate yesterday with a two-hit day that included a three-run home run and a single.
  • RP Jordan Hicks continues to dominate in relief, throwing 18 of his 21 pitches for strikes in two perfect innings against the Braves yesterday. Hicks had a bad night against the Braves on Friday, allowing three runs on a hit and a walk in 1/3 of an inning, but other than that appearance he’s allowed only one run in his last 13 1/3 innings with 17 strikeouts over than time.

Tampa Bay Rays

  • OF Mallex Smith went 2-for-4 yesterday with his first home run of the season (and first in almost a calendar year). Smith has been in a rough stretch at the plate, entering yesterday’s game with four hits in his last 37 at-bats, but he’s been very good defensively and should continue to get regular playing time as he works his way back to normal as a hitter.

Texas Rangers

  • 2B Rougned Odor went 3-for-3 with two walks, two runs scored, an RBI, and a stolen base yesterday, building on his recovery from an awful first two-plus months to open the season. Odor is hitting .279 over the last 15 days with a .868 OPS. We’ve seen some 12-team leagues where he was dropped, and even in 10-team leagues we think it’s time he’s rostered everywhere again.

Toronto Blue Jays

  • RP Ryan Tepera’s elbow injury, which landed him on the disabled list Saturday, will not require a specialist visit, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet. There’s no timetable for his return, but right now it is just considered a rest issue. In related news, earlier in the weekend it was reiterated by Blue Jays management that RP Roberto Osuna will slot right back in at closer when he returns from his suspension on August 5.

Washington Nationals

  • SP Gio Gonzalez wasn’t quite as bad yesterday as he was on Monday against the Rays, but his command issue was still there, as he walked four Phillies in five innings, and combined that with three hits to allow three runs in a no-decision. You’re not benching Gio for his next start on Friday against Miami, but if he struggles there it’ll be time to re-consider his status.
  • OF Bryce Harper was dropped to fifth in the batting order yesterday and went 0-for-4 with two walks and two strikeouts. His batting average has slipped to .216 on the season.

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